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A scent hound, the Bavarian Mountain Hound has its origins in Germany and is the result of crossing the Hanover Hound with the Bavarian Hound. As a hunting dog, the Bavarian Mountain Hound was used primarily for trailing injured game.
Directly related to Germany's finest hunting dogs the 'Bracken', the Bavarian Mountain Hound is one of the best trailing hounds, with an excellent nose, strong will and great intelligence. The hound was developed by crossing the docile and trainable 'Liam' Bracken, with the 'scent' Bracken, creating a dog that is the ultimate scent hound being both trainable and brave.
By crossing these genetically close breeds in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries, the Hanoverian Hound was introduced, and following the 1848 revolution and the dissolution of large hunting estates, the dogs were increasingly required to follow wounded animals. However, working on the leash, coupled with their keenness for the trail, meant the Hanoverian often proved too heavy for the task and a lighter breed began to be developed. In 1912 the breed's official club was launched.
Average height to withers: 18.5" - 20.5" (dogs) 17" - 19" (bitches)
Average weight: 20kg - 25kg
A large, strong dog, the Mountain Hound's head is long, slightly domed and broad and it has a well-developed chest. The nose should be black or dark red with flared nostrils and the ears are neither large nor small and should be set high. These heavy ears should be wide at the base and taper to a rounded end.
The dog is longer than it is high, with raised hindquarters and a tail that should reach the hock and is carried high or parallel to the ground. The hound's coat is short, dense and glossy and should be rougher on the legs, chest, tail and belly. The hair on the ears and head should be much finer.
Colourways include deep red, deer red, red-brown and fawn.
Bavarian Mountain hounds are neither reserved nor aggressive but can appear distant. They are keen, intelligent, calm (although they can be quite vocal!) and absolutely devoted to their masters, sometimes to the point where they may appear shy with strangers. However, be warned - when hunting you may be confronted with a different dog.
On the trail they become determined, fast, agile and very brave and because of their strong hunting instinct they require an experienced handler. Care should be taken when in open spaces; any off-lead work should be considered very carefully as, like other scent hound, the Bavarian will forget all about you if there's a tasty trail to follow.
The Bavarian Mountain Hound is a robust dog and appears untroubled by some of the health issues that plague other pedigree breeds. Due to unregulated breeding, there are some issues that have been reported, although these don't appear regularly as with other types.
Hip dysplasia is a problem that affects all breeds and refers to a number of issues and abnormalities that affect the hip joint. These can include dislocations and problems with shape of the hip joint itself and can be attributed to genetics, although husbandry and weight will also play a part in any orthopaedic condition. KC Registered puppies of 12 months or older can be screened for hip dysplasia which can help reassure worried owners.
Entropion is an eye condition which has been reported in some examples of the breed. It is a painful condition in which the upper and lower lids of the eye curl inwards and touch the eye surface. Veterinary advice must be sought immediately if the condition is suspected as persistent rubbing from the inverted lids can cause ulcers on the cornea and scarring. If the condition is caught early enough it can be easily corrected with surgery.
Symptoms of epilepsy have also been reported in the breed. This condition is thought to be hereditary and as with humans, presents itself in seizures. Epilepsy can be controlled by medication but it can be an expensive condition to treat and there is no known cure.
Because of their aforementioned devotion to their masters, Bavarian Mountain Hounds should be given plenty of opportunity to spend time with their 'humans'. However it should not be forgotten that these dogs are really intended for the serious enthusiast as they live for their work. They require a great deal of mental and physical stimulation and are not a dog to be kept in the city or as a general pet. They thrive under the tutelage of a knowledgeable, committed and patient master and benefit from regular work. In the UK they are usually seen at the heels of a gamekeeper or forester. Their appetite for exercise and work cannot be underestimated and a lack of stimulus will lead to a bored and destructive animal.
The hound will require regular brushing as its thick coat needs attention to look its best but it won't necessarily need any trips to the grooming salon. An adult hound should be fed one or two meals per day and a good-quality commercial feed will keep him happy and well-nourished - it's worth looking into the rules on VAT as food for some working dogs is VAT free.
Manufacturer's feeding guidelines should be followed to ensure he stays at his optimum weight. Treats should also be kept to a minimum - no more than 15% of his daily calorie intake - so use for training only as an overweight dog is more prone to joint problems such as the aforementioned hip dysplasia, diabetes and heart disease.